Cleveland Browns: Josh Gordon is the puzzle piece that needs to fit
With all the new additions to the Cleveland Browns roster, Josh Gordon is still one of the most intriguing players to watch in 2018.
Josh Gordon is an enigma to Cleveland Browns fans. Is he the generational talent who dazzled the NFL in 2013 with 1,646 receiving yards in 14 games including back-to-back 200-yard games? Or is he the troubled soul who missed two full years and most of a third due to substance abuse issues? Do the Browns potentially have Cris Carter who battled back from his own demons to have a Hall of Fame career? Or are we setting ourselves up for heartbreak?
Gordon, as most Browns fans know, is one violation away from being permanently banned by the NFL. It feels almost too easy to say that fact is the elephant in the room. So it’s encouraging that all we’ve heard from Gordon this offseason came by way of a hype video which shows him working out with Tyrod Taylor and others.
With the opportunity to finally finish his rookie contract at the age of 27, Gordon will never have a larger financial incentive to have a breakout year. However, fans thought the same thing after his stellar 2013 season. Addiction does not often respond to reason. Fortunately for Gordon, he seems to be fully invested in his recovery. That is good news for him first and foremost as a man and a new father. But we’re fans and so, yes, it’s good for our hopes as well.
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When fans look at the Browns 2018 starting offense, Gordon plays a large role in our optimism. What a far cry from last year when most Browns fans were skeptical, at best, that Gordon would be reinstated by the league for the last five games. And many Browns fans wondered what we could realistically expect if Gordon did return.
We got our answer. In just five games, Gordon had the fifth most receiving yards on the team and was just 60 yards short of tying Seth DeValve for the second most receiving yards. And his 18.6 yards per reception average was the highest on the team.
The offense is just different with Gordon as part of it. He is a matchup nightmare who has the speed to take the top off a defense …
…yet is big and quick enough to get separation from defensive backs to catch a slant over the middle.
A healthy, committed Josh Gordon makes the entire Browns offense better. Without Gordon, roles would be shuffled to replace an irreplaceable talent.
Next: Is Browns CB Denzel Ward a day-one starter?
That’s what gives the 2018 season so much promise, yet fills us with so much angst.